Varun Aaron's unsettling pace turned heads in his first and only Test against West Indies in Mumbai two years ago. As West Indies return for another series, Aaron is starting from scratch after recovering from a career-threatening back injury.
"It's been almost two years that I have bowled with a red ball. My last competitive match though was in the 2012 IPL," the Jharkhand bowler told HT ahead of Sunday's Ranji Trophy opener against Delhi, his first competitive match in over 18 months.
"Injuries are something you can't really control, especially a bowler's injury. I couldn't really help that it came at such an important time in my career but I would have felt worse had I not put in the miles," he said.
Aaron suffered a stress fracture in the spine's fifth lumber and had surgery in England.
Aaron though said it wasn't hard because he wasn't alone in this. "Had it not been for the BCCI and the National Cricket Academy, it would have been most difficult."
But the most crucial advice came from a man who's a legend in Aaron's line of work - Dennis Lillee.
"He was a great sport. He told me since he had been through the same thing he understood what I was going through. He told me to not view the time away from cricket in a negative light but as an opportunity to look back at my life and my career and make amends," said Aaron, reminiscing about the time he spent at the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai.
Asked whether the injury would force him to compromise on pace, Aaron was ready with the reply. "I have made a small adjustment to my action but I don't think that will affect my pace much, I don't intend to cut down on it," he said.
Aaron's taking baby steps back into cricket at a time when India's pace resources are seriously thin but he is not looking too far.
"Staging a comeback to the India team is the priority. The one Test showed me how much intensity you need at the international level. Right now, I'm looking to take it one game at a time. I would like to see Jharkhand in the knockouts."